Wednesday, May 31, 2006

May be a good time to recall?

Toyota announced a huge recall involving 986,000 cars worldwide. 320,000 of those include the Priuses sold in America. Toyota says the steering wheel on these cars will lock up if the wheel is turned too hard or if the car strikes a curb. No injuries have been reported. About this same time last year Toyota recalled 750,000 Tundra, Tacomas, and 4 Runners. I wonder what will get recalled next year in May.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Big Oil Profit Margins

During the May 14 edition of Autoline Detroit, host John McElroy presented a comparison of the net profit margins of various companies, according to their annual reports:
ExxonMobil 9.1%
Microsoft 30.7%
CitiGroup 29.4%
Dreamworks 22.6%
Toyota 6.3%
The profits of oil companies have come under public scrutiny lately and while large in dollar value, the resulting profit margins are comparatively small. Technology benchmark Microsoft posts profit margins more than three times greater than those of oil leader ExxonMobil. Also noteworthy is the fact that Toyota's margins are not significantly lower than ExxonMobil's.
According to McElroy, even if oil companies operated at cost, the effect on gas prices at the pump would be minimal. Further, compared to the software, financial, and entertainment leaders, the oil companies are certainly not the appropriate recipients of any public criticism.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Being right is better than being first.

GM has unveiled their new fuel savings plan. GM unveiled the first 6 cylinder engine with cylinder deactivation. It will be a 3.9L engine which will exist in the new Impala to start off with. This is supposed to increase gas mileage by 5%. The new Green Line Vue will save 20% gas on average and only be a $2000 option. If you spent $2000 on gas a year, you could recoup your spending in 5 years time. With Gas prices rising the time to recoup costs would decrease significantly. The Chevy Tahoe will soon have a new hybrid system developed with BMW. "It's fun to be first in an early-stage technology. It's more important to be right, and I think we have a well-thought out approach," he said. "I think (the Vue and the Tahoe) will show people that we can play with anybody on technology. We'll see how the market plays out."

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Truth In Advertising

One of Toyota's latest campaigns calls attention to their huge number of U.S. employees, and together with their pending participation in the NASCAR Nextel Cup works to portray Toyota as America's Car Company. Some people have taken exception to this claim, including The Level Field Institute.
The LFI is running TV and print ads that look at the numbers from a different perspective: According to them, Ford and GM both each employ more Americans than all foreign auto manufacturers combined, and together with Daimler Chrysler account for 8 out of 10 U.S. autoworker jobs. The Level Field Institute's website has several graphs and charts detailing the specific differences between the domestic and foreign manufacturers.
It is worth noting that the LFI was founded by retirees of The Big Three, shedding some light on their motivation. The numbers they present are nonetheless powerful, and as stated by them they should be taken into account when shopping for a new vehicle.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

C6R Dominance

Lone Star Grand Prix LogoThis past Friday night, the two C6Rs of Corvette Racing faced a formidable challenge in the ALMS Lone Star Grand Prix. Held on a temporary (and incredibly bumpy) "street" circuit, the race actually snaked its way through the sprawling parking lots surrounding Reliant Park in Houston, Texas, and was difficult just to get around at speed. Making things even more interesting was the presence of a pair of DBR9s fielded by Aston Martin racing, winners of the 2005 24 Hours of Sebring, and fastest qualifiers of the same 2006 race. The DBR9s are prepared by Prodrive, legendary for their WRC Subaru WRXs and LeMans-winning 550 Maranello, and recently notable for announcing their entry into the 2008 Formula 1 World Championship.
As if that weren't enough of a challenge, the dominant Corvette C6Rs were saddled with a 176lb weight disadvantage to the Aston Martins. Actually a 66lb addition to the Vettes and a 110lb weight reduction to the DBR9s, the adjustment was intended to bring parity to the GT1 class, long dominated by the Corvettes.
In classic Corvette Racing fashion, the two C6Rs led every lap and finished 1 and 2 in class, 2 and 3 overall. Nothing short of a monumental achievement for GM, the Corvettes held off the fiercely-competitive Aston Martins, and were bettered only by Audi's R8, arguably the greatest car in sports car racing history. This is nothing but bad news for the rest of the GT1 competitors, as it clearly shows that nothing short of an unlikely mechanical failure will keep the Corvette Racing C6Rs off of the top step of the podium.
Corvette C6Rs

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


The CG-Lock is a nifty little adapter that cinches up a car's lap belt. It's aimed at enthusiasts whose everyday vehicle sees occasional use as a race car, and don't want to deal with the expense, hassle, and stigma associated with installing a 5-point racing harness in their grocery-getter. By all accounts the product is priced fairly and works well.